Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Hobbit farm/Tim Powers fantasy

Hobbit homes remain on the farm in New Zealand.
Although it's mostly sheep inhabiting them now.

Funny by the way how Lord Of The Rings is not just popular, it's so big, mental-impact-wise, that virtually all fantasy since it have been caught in its gravity field, creatively. I personally really don't get the attraction. But there must be something about it, I personally have two friends for whom LOTR is the one book they can and will read and read and read again.
Granted, I'm more of a SF guy than a fantasy guy. But maybe that's because almost all fantasy is "high fantasy" (a nicer word for LOTR rip-off). I like fantasy if the author steps out of the cookie cutter, for example Tim Powers, his books Anubis Gates and Last Call are amongst my favorites, they are fantasy, and they have all-original ideas throughout, not a tall hat with stars on it in sight.
Update: I have just found out that four of Tim's books are on Audible/iTunes! Zippidy. I may start with On Stranger Tides (review), which is one I haven't re-read since back then. (Note, if you're not in the US, you need an American credit card to get the audible version, typical silly territorial issues.) Oh, and they are narrated by Bronson Pinchot... remember the genius who played Serge in Beverly Hills Cop? The faux-French, faux-gay, faux-everything hilarious art gallery clerk. I wonder what happened to him, film-career wise, he was outstanding.


Datamancer said...

I have no idea how anyone can make it through LotR more than once; the writing is absolutely horrid. Tolkien has a tendency to go on about the tiniest detail of the most insignificant thing while glossing over parts of the story that would be vastly more interesting. Moreover, there are no characters, only archetypes meant which act the way they do to make stuff happen so other stuff happens. For instance, Aragorn never shows any signs of doubt in the books whereas he's significantly more human in the films.

I'm not going to say every part of the three/six books is terrible. There's merit; the world he built is fantastic and a few bits of writing here and there stand out, but between the made-up languages, the endless pages of songs and poems, and the utter lack of interesting conflicts, it's hard to stay interested. I read through the trilogy just to say I did it but it was hard as hell to get past, "The Council of Elrond" and I doubt I ever will again.

The Dissonance said...

I read the series as a teenager. I got hooked on the first book and struggled through the rest. But I still love the idea!

Now "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Childhoods End", those I would read again.

Anonymous said...

I personally have two friends for whom LOTR is the one book they can and will read and read and read again.

I haven't yet managed to make it all the way through. I think I've got about 1/4 of the way through Fellowship. I too know people who love it and re-read it.

One thing I wish they hadn't done is split LOTR into three books (which, yes, I know was done to reduce cost) as it seems lik 90% of fantasy authors since Tolkien have done trilogies.

For instance, Aragorn never shows any signs of doubt in the books whereas he's significantly more human in the films.

This was done only for the female viewers.

the endless pages of songs and poems

I'm not a poetry guy to begin with, and definitely skipped the ones in LOTR.

Now "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Childhoods End", those I would read again.

Really? The former I found incredibly dull and poorly written. The latter, although interesting, was very, very dated.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

BTW, I suspect that in the last decade or two, there's a vacuum of interesting hard SF being published. I don't seem to find much anyway.

Datamancer said...

"This was done only for the female viewers."

Whatever the reason, it was a good move. It gave him a character arc which he didn't have originally. In the books he was always the man destined to be king. He knew it, the rest of the world knew it, and the whole thing was so cookie-cutter there was never any doubt he'd have his happy ending.

Of course I'm saying that after so many have copied his template, and he himself copied the archetypes of older myths-they weren't really meant to be three dimensional. Tolkien cared more about crafting the world than he did about creating characters so a simple framework served his purpose. Still, from a literary standpoint it's extremely lacking.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the reason, it was a good move.

I couldn't make it through the movies either. They were just too bad. Although I didn't care for the books it's mind boggling that anyone could prefer those awful movies.

I mean, really, Aragorn a three-dimensional character? The reason I said he was the way he was to nab female viewers is clearly right. He's just as much a cookie cutter character. Get a "hot" guy, have him agonize over shit he has to do, moan a lot, look all brooding, don't shave for a few days (he somehow managed to maintain that same level of stubble throughout the whole thing)...what female viewers love, after all, is "angst." It's the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Effect.

Jes said...

I actually read the Lord of the Rings books here recently. I enjoyed them. I like the world he created, and the journey, and the characters(especially Gandalf). A lot of stuff I liked about them. But I agree that Tolkien sometimes spent more time describing the geography than actually telling the story. Especially in the first book, holy hell. Some parts were a chore to get through. I feel like I've seen better stories, but I found it was worth reading once.

Englebert Horatio Pinkwater said...

Still, better than some of the copycats who've followed him. Robert Jordan for example. Now there's a writer in need of an editor (or an editor who isn't his wife). Read any of his Wheel of Time books and he goes overboard on pointless description. Plus if you read Amazon reviews of the later books in the series even his most hardcore followers had started to lose patience with him.